The discussions went well until they began asking very sticky questions about the store manager. I considered my options and decided the truth is always the way to go. I also thought they knew the answers; otherwise, they wouldn't be asking because they wouldn't know to ask. I guessed it was a test. I told the truth and didn't elaborate. I was not promoted.
They never revealed their discomfort with anything discussed. They were very good.
About 25 years later, I unexpectedly ran into the area manager, who was selling cars then. He had long since been let go as had his immediate manager. I asked him about that interview and why I was not promoted.
They, indeed, knew the answers to their questions. They had hard facts on the subjects in question. They were testing my level of honesty deliberately. He admitted that I was doing a great job but I was too honest.
They feared my honesty. If I would be honest about my manager, I would be honest about them, if ever asked by their superiors in such an interview, and that scared them to no end. In his words, "We were afraid you'd tell the truth about us."
They were not going to run the risk of promoting me. He noted their protective scheme had no lasting impact as they both lost their jobs within 5-10 years, if memory serves. He ended that part of the conversation with "no one will be promoted that is too honest." It seems he failed to understand "no one will be kept that is too dishonest."
I did the right thing and paid a price for it. Such things you cannot completely protect yourself from or against. You have to do the right thing and let the dust settle.
In spite of the history, he still acted like he was right and in control.